Mumbai Zoo at Byculla Called Veer Jijamata Udyan

“This 52 acres spaced Jijamata Udyan (Mumbai Zoo) or known as Byculla Zoo locally is in midst of city, Near Mumbai central and Byculla station. People recollect this heritage tourist place with various other names like ‘Veermata Jijabai Bhosale Udyan’ (Real Official Name), ‘Rani Baug (Bagh)’, ‘Veermata Jijamata Prani Sangrahalay’, ‘Byculla Zoo’ and formerly ‘Victoria Garden’ is the only wild life animal park in city. More details about this zoo, the revamp process, the new closed theatre auditorium, Humboldt Penguins and other Wild Animals and more..”

Zoo Inside View
Zoo Inside View

Jijamata Udyan and Wild Animals

Since 1861 of its establishment, this decades old historic jijamata udyan is full of lush green trees and famous for the species of birds and animals easily seen once you enter Jijamata udyan. This zoo in Byculla was now under Mumbai Municipal corporation was donated to then called Bombay by Mr. David Sassoon, the same Jewish businessman who has developed other heritage structures like David Sassoon library, Victoria and Albert museum and the beautiful Victoria tower clock which you can easily find inside the udyan (garden). With the green trees is a botanical garden in the pathway inside the zoo with beautiful and wide range of flower plants, herb plants and other new species of plants.

Updates 2016 : Year 2015, The 70 years old (Since 1873), Zoo license expired and CZA (Central Zoo Authority) sent a notice before hand for the irregularities and filthy maintenance of the only wild life animal premise here.

The huge 53 acres of Jijamata Udyan did not see any major maintenance work since long that will keep the zoo visitors happy with pleasant surrounding to view with healthy animals and birds staying happy in hygienic condition and so the bad condition got worsen since last 7 decades.

Filthy water around Hippos and Crocodiles, Wild special attractions like Lions and Tigers are totally missing now. No system to monitor the activities inside animal surroundings and so are many notorious visitors teasing birds and animals which create unhealthy and unpleasant surrounding conditions for these species, Gradually making them aggressive and unhealthy.

Botanical Garden Inside Zoo

According to the latest news about Mumbai zoo in newspapers there are 3213 trees which belongs to 57 different families with 173 genera and 285 species all inside jijamata garden. It was calculated that among those 285 listed species, there are 30 species which are endangered and few of the very rare and rarest species of trees. This botanical garden section of Mumbai zoo will not be touched in revamp process.

Zoo Birds
Zoo Birds

Birds and Animal inside Mumbai Zoo

Mammals: Currently Mumbai Zoo houses 189 mammals of 20 species.
Birds : 449 Birds of 38 different species their inside zoo.
Reptiles : 43 reptiles of 9 species in at Jijamata garden.
2009 : 24 animal died inside zoo
2010 : 55 deaths.
2014: Current animal attractions and counts are like 30 Spotted deer, 1 Lioness, 3 Hippopotamus, 2 Elephants, 2 Hyenas and 1 Himalayan black bear.

This zoo currently give shade to varieties of animals among which few of them are Lion (Only single lion remain in Byculla zoo as of now), a single hyena in dark room, foxes, monitor lizards, black bucks and other wild species like snakes, Elephants, Hippos and crocodiles and blank monkeys (The Langoors). At one corner of Byculla zoo is a huge open ground for those group of black spot deer, the borders are safe. Two giant elephants can be seen just on the left side of entrance, quite far because of the zoo safety rules. Few species of snakes with a huge bua rare comes out in open. Latest news flashed the missing of this bua snake from Byculla zoo which is a shame factor.

Huge Black Bear
Huge Black Bear

Very few birds can be seen inside garden premise. Lay down on the green grass belt in south side of garden and have a look on those tall trees and you will find thousands of vampire bats ready and waiting for darkness of night to start moving. Although the bird section inside zoo don’t have much of varieties of species apart from the flamingos, peacock, peahen and some of such birds, Still for the first timers this much is a enough of attraction inside Mumbai zoo. Refer the Byculla zoo revamp section below to know which all birds and wild animals are planning to be in soon.

Byculla Zoo Revamp

Lately, municipal council decided, since this old heritage is decades old and many animals died inside zoo with number raising to 24 in 2009 and 55 deaths in 2010. The critical revamp need was to be a emergency call for Mumbai city. Good news is that Jijamata udyan revamp is already in progress and the wild life century of Mumbai will be getting many other species and varieties of wild animal (like wolves, leopards, Jackals, Madras Turtles etc) from other part of country and internationally from Africa too. The botanical garden will be untouched in this revamp process, only the wild life sanctuary and other major required structures like historic gallery, animal sections and administrative building will be taken under repair and maintenance.

The makeover of this zoo might also have a 3D theater, first taxidermy museum of city, theme park, animal rides, car parking options and other gift shops and eateries restaurants in and near this garden.

The plan to revamp was done in 2007 which was executed in 2015 costing Rs.150 Crores, Yet the actual action is delayed by a year now with issues related to tenders, oppose for new penguins in zoo and the recent death of one of them. More than 125 animals and 290 birds life is concerned due to pathetic conditions of the current zoo premise.

New Birds and Animals Upon revamp

Hippos at Mumbai Zoo
Hippos at Mumbai Zoo

This revamp is going to change the face of zoo, late in October 2011 till 2012 major attractions of zoo will be lots more with tourist getting change to see the wild side of Mumbai, it will welcome lots of wild animals like chimpanzee, cheetah, lowland gorilla is what Mumbai will be waiting for as the only chance to see was in movies. The Central Zoo Authorities (CZA) has also given permissions to Mumbai zoo to keep new animals like Giraffes, wild dogs, Lions ( Both Asian / African Lions), Rare zebras, King of jungle (tigers), leopards, pangolin, mouse deer, orang utans, jungle cats and those sweet looking Penguins inside Mumbai zoo. New animals inside zoo will be brought from countries like South Africa, Australia, and other parts of Asian countries. Wow that a very good new attractions to the only city zoo.

In this phase of zoo revamp, the garden premise will be adding extra 7 acres of plat which was adjacent to Mumbai zoo and was owned by a private firm called ‘Mafatlal Company’. This will add a good amount of space inside Jijamata garden, the wild animal section will be shifted here. After completing the first phase of revamp of administrative building inside zoo, working on animal shelters and boundaries for safety and convenience will be worked on. This revamp work is expected to be completed in next 3 years.

Types Of Gardens Inside Zoo

Latest Additions Humboldt Penguins

Updates as of March 2017 : Penguin section now open to public. Now, Zoo Entry ticket rates are Rs.50 (Children) & Rs.100 (Adults).

23rd October 2016 : One of the female penguins died of a bacteria called ‘Gram-Negative’. Animal activists and NGO’s are angry of the death and not having specialist Humboldt Penguin Vet who could have
saved the life.

Strongly oppose came from many when huge amount was spent and idea of getting such delicate species was disclosed. Now after the death of penguin, Many wants other remaining penguins to be sent back to their natural environment.

End of November 2016, Or Initial few days of December is when the newly bought Humboldt Penguins will be kept open for public visits which were bought in July and created much of controversies for its maintenance cost and oppose from Mumbai NGO’s.

As per the oppose, It was a decision which was not required. Penguins are not suitable for Mumbai zoo climate and the cost of bringing them at their suitable temperature (16 ° or less) is huge. Already this zoo is getting notifications from Indian Zoo Authorities for not maintaining the way it should be suitable for wild life.

So, The new 1700 Square Feet area for cute looking 8 Penguins (3 Males, 3 Females and 2 Female Babies) of Humboldt breed is currently under development and is almost ready for zoo visitors. These penguins are kept at 16 ° Celsius temperature and if all goes well the breeding of 3 male with 5 female penguins will bring in the additions too.

Additions of such attractions (Penguins) may also increase the entry ticket rates, or may be not. Lets wait for a month more and see the results.

Zoo’s Closed Theatre and Auditorium

About 5 decades in around 1963, Our Mumbai Zoo started a open air theatre called “Anna Bhau Sathe Theatre”. It was an era in Maharashtra when television was hardly something and stage dramas and dance performances were on peak. Maharashtrian community folk dances like Bharud, Koli dance, Lavani and Tamasha was well liked and a unique art, entertainment and leisure option which gave birth to this open air theatre inside Jijamata udyan of Byculla. In that era, having seating capacity of 400 to 500 people inside zoo was a thing of attraction and interest as it was not an open maidan (Ground) performance. Gradually BMC got to know that the folk performances which was an extreme interest to humans were actually disturbing animals and birds inside Udyan. Late evening when the tablas and classical folk music was been played, these creatures used to gets disturbed with the sound as they were and now too are peace lovers, early sleepers and early risers. So in 1984 this attraction came to and end and was not used till now.

Now as per plans, 2 years down now the then closed theatre will be opened to public as a fresh and newly renovated “Closed Theatre Auditorium” in the name of same social reformer, tamasha show and stage performance organizer, social leader and writer “Lok Shahir Anna Bhau Sathe Theatre and Auditorium”. Renovation of this new closed theatre will be dedicated to Folk Cultural Art and performances only and is expected to be completed in next 2 years (Possibly 2017 and 2018) with great new looks, a total of 4 floors RCC structure with 2 basement levels and a first floor individually used for various purpose as per plans like car parking, water rooms, security rooms, VIP rooms, water tanks and storage, changing rooms for artists, Sound, Lighting and other set up, green rooms, Auditorium etc. within a total approximate area of 4500 to 5000 square meters with seating capacity be increased to 700 to 800 people inside closed theatre.

How to reach Mumbai zoo

Jijamata udyan (Byculla Zoo) is exactly opposite byculla station, just few minutes walk from station in central railway route is the perfect to get down at. For western railway route, Nearest station is Mumbai Central station is the best place, take a taxi which will reach in next 10 to 15 minutes.

Timings and Entry Fees

10:30 in morning till evening 5:30 after which entry is not allowed. Entry fees (Rate in Rs.) per person is about Rs.50/- & Rs.100 (For Children & Adults).

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Deven Jadav

My love towards Mumbai city took me to passion blogging about city and be one of the travel guide online. Hope my efforts help you as citizen or foreign national tourist in some or other ways.

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